How much Summer Wine is left?

The most famous of the Last of the Summer Wine...
Image via Wikipedia

Yet another mainstay of my life is coming to an end but mustn’t grumble I suppose? As you get older, more and more aspects that have formed the framework of your life change, some even disappear for good. Your hair, your teeth and even your toes when you look down, are just a few examples…    

A state of constant flux is one of those aspects of life that will always go on however it just feels like there’s bloody more of them as you get older. How you view a change is usually dependant upon how it affects you but in general, I think people embrace change. Just so long as it’s for the better, shame that isn’t always the case.    

What did Last of the Summer Wine* teach us? – After 37 years of capers from Compo and his pals, Last of the Summer Wine says goodbye this week. One thing it has taught us, says Yasmeen Khan, is that elderly people can still have fun. (BBC News Magazine)    

It was interesting to read Yasmeen’s piece as in addition to the good journalistic content and comment, she was able to add a ‘local knowledge’ slant to the story, having grown up in the area where it was filmed. 

Holmfirth is a typical Mill town of the Pennines that is an example of the change I’m talking about. It originally grew up around a corn mill and bridge at the confluence of two rivers in the 13th century. Three hundred years later Holmfirth expanded rapidly as the growing cloth trade grew and the production of stone and slates from the surrounding quarries increased.  

Today, despite maintaining and enhancing its status as a vibrant Market Town, Holmfirth probably has very little of its previous industrial type employment but which town does in the UK today? The town however appears to get a reasonable income from the visiting droves of TV show fans, that and the lovers of the Arts in their various forms. Like the characters in the TV show, it may have grown older (and had bits fall off)  but is still intent on having fun, a factor confirmed by the Holmfirth tourist guide!   

So what did I learn from the show? I don’t think it was ever an intention of the writer or indeed the production team however; one of the major things it taught me (at least latterly) was how family values and community spirit, along with a dry sense of humour are dying out in our society. Towns like Holmfirth were always the epitome of our close-knit communities, they were full of characters like Compo, Foggy & Clegg and, towns like this were once the bedrock of our erstwhile great Nation. Sadly many of those qualities are missing in this Country today. I say it’s sad but perhaps that type of dismay is only voiced by people of my age group or older? I might be Mr Grumpy but trust me, this type of social change within society is not one of the better ones!    

Tonight I had those feelings reinforced when I watched Real Crime with Mark Austin. Although in no way connected with Holmfirth or West Yorkshire, it examined the apparent levels of depravity our society has stooped to in many areas. I was deeply saddened at the murder of Gary Newlove in Cheshire however, I was almost just as sad about our society and how in many respects, the police have totally lost control of our streets. Not with standing the good work that still goes on, our police have lost the ability to effectively respond to the needs of our communities. Often with devastating after effects on families like the Newloves! 

(Some answers as to why can be found here)  

Briefly for those who aren’t aware Gary went out of his home one night to remonstrate with a group of drunken youths engaged in antisocial behaviour and damaging property. For his efforts, the father of three young girls was subsequently and savagely kicked and beaten to death by the yobs, simply for challenging them. Apparently when arrested later, the youths suggested one of the reasons for their actions was “he was disrespecting me”? Did nobody ever teach these thugs that to earn respect you need to show respect!

So how much Summer Wine do I have left? Sufficient for me to continue to grow old disgracefully whilst still having fun, just like the old boys trio. That said, I will also continue to challenge unacceptable behaviour when I see it, I just can’t help myself after 30yrs as a police officer. In the absence of adequate police resources on the streets, someone has to! I’m just hoping my family never have to experience the emotions felt by Mrs Newlove and her daughters!

* Last of the Summer Wine is set and filmed in and around Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, England and centres around a trio of old men. Originally consisting of Bill Owen as the scruffy and child-like Compo, Peter Sallis as deep-thinking, meek Norman Clegg and Michael Bates as authoritarian and snobbish Blamire. When Bates dropped out through illness in 1976 after two series, the role of the third man of the trio was filled in various years up to the 30th series by the quirky war veteran, Foggy (Brian Wilde). The men never seem to grow up and developed a unique perspective on their equally eccentric fellow townspeople through their youthful stunts. (Source Wikipedia)   

Popularity: At its peak in the late 1970s, the programme was hitting between 18 and 20 million viewers, around a third of the available audience at the time. It ran for 31 series over 37 years.

One thought on “How much Summer Wine is left?

  1. Update from BBC News: The final episode of long-running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine attracted 5.4 million viewers, according to overnight figures. The show’s swansong picked up nearly a million extra viewers compared to last Sunday night’s episode on BBC One.


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